Appendix to the SCUE Report On Experimental Education

Penn Scholars

An example of the final write-up of a program that has gone through the CIE's preliminary stages, before presentation to faculty and administrators. The write-up in its final form before implementation would be placed in the CIE archives.

The Penn Scholars program will encourage undergraduate research at the University. Under this program, five or six of the University's brightest undergraduates across all schools and programs will perform a two-credit, year-long study on a common theme. At the end of the year, these Penn Scholars will participate in a large panel presentation of their research. This culmination of work will serve as a dialogue of the Penn Scholars' findings, as well as an exhibition of undergraduate research performed at Penn. Students will meet with the Provost or a selected moderator two to three times each semester to ensure that each project stays within the bounds of the predetermined subject. These sessions will also provide a forum for the scholars to present progress reports on their own findings. This program will be an interdisciplinary approach to a broad subject, with undergraduate researchers from diverse fields learning from each other.

I. Topic of research

The topic of research will be broad enough so as to ensure the potential participation by undergraduates from any department of the University. Themes will change every year, with the possibility of repetition only after four years.

The CIE will form a special subcommittee for the proposal of a topic for the Penn Scholars program. This sub-committee will submit a proposed theme to the moderator before the beginning of the Spring semester. The moderator will have the authority to approve or reject the proposal. The topic for the upcoming school year will be finalized no later than January 31.

II. Publicity

Notices in The Daily Pennsylvanian and Almanac will run well before advance registration for Fall classes. In addition, internet resources will be utilized. A Penn Scholars webpage will be created, as well as a listserve. This listserve will facilitate communication among the Scholars, and act as a forum for suggestions for future research topics. Discussion in this forum will serve to foster interdisciplinary learning among the Scholars.

CIE members on the Penn Scholars subcommittee and the current participants in the program will conduct information sessions. The current Scholars will present progress reports of their work and provide their perspectives on the program. The selection process will be discussed during these sessions and application materials will be distributed.

III. Application and Selection

Five to six students will be selected for the program each Spring. These students will be chosen from across all schools and departments. To ensure the multi-disciplinary approach to the topic, only one student from a given department may be chosen each year. Preference will be given to rising seniors.

The CIE will administer the admissions process. The selection committee will consist of the following:

  • Four CIE members
  • Four faculty members

Although it is not mandatory, the CIE suggests that the four faculty members represent the four undergraduate schools at the University.

This committee will select three to five candidates for entry into this program. The criteria will be as follows:

  1. Quality of proposed project
  2. Relevance to topic
  3. Faculty recommendation

The application will be comprised of a description of the proposed project, including an abstract, goals, procedures; an explanation of how the proposed project relates to the theme for that year; and a recommendation from the faculty advisor. The selection of an appropriate faculty advisor is crucial, because the Scholar will work intimately with the chosen mentor.

IV. Research and Credit

Research will begin the following semester. The Scholars will register for the two credit sequence through the independent study program offered by the department in which the student has declared a major. Penn Scholars who perform their research during their senior year will have the opportunity to count the research performed in this program as their senior research requirement or thesis project, as outlined by certain departments. All grading and credit distribution will be handled by the department under which the Scholar's independent study is registered. Full credit will only be awarded upon completion of the program at the end of the Spring semester.

V. Moderator's Sessions

The moderator will meet with the Scholars every half semester, amounting to three two-hour sessions. The moderator will make sure that each project stays within the bounds of the prescribed topic, as well as insure that each student is diligent in keeping up with her work. These meetings will consist of ten-minute progress reports given by each Scholar, followed by a discussion. The dialogue will serve as a brain-storming session where students will be able to learn from each other and perhaps draw from each other's work for their own projects. This discussion will be informal with the moderator playing only a minimal role.

The moderator will not have to monitor the Scholars outside these sessions. The only time commitments to which the moderator must attend will be the three two-hour sessions as well as the panel discussion at the end of the Spring semester.

VI. Panel Discussion

The culmination of the Penn Scholars program will be a presentation of findings and dialogue with the Penn community on the topic at the end of the Spring semester which will be coordinated by the CIE (e.g., reserving a large lecture room, generating publicity, serving refreshments, and handling invitations). This capstone to the students' projects will serve to initiate the final segment of the year, during which many departments hold symposiums of undergraduate research projects.

The event will begin with each Scholar briefly presenting his/her work. Discussion of the topic will follow, as the entire University community will be invited. This discussion will serve to encourage both students and faculty to participate in the program.

VII. Honors

As this program seeks to recognize some of the University's brightest undergraduates, certain articles of merit will be bestowed upon the Scholars:

  • Transcript: Participation in the Penn Scholars program will be noted.
  • A certificate will be issued upon completion of the program.
  • All Penn Scholars will wear a gold drape over their robes upon graduation.

VIII. Implementation for 1999-2000

The CIE would like to run a pilot of the Penn Scholars program starting in the Fall of 1999. Described below is the approximate timeline for implementation.

 By March 21, 1999:  Anticipated topic approval by Moderator: Aspects of Time
 March 21-April 4, 1999:  Advertising and publicity campaigns run by the CIE.
 April 4-April 11, 1999:  CIE subcommittee selects Scholars.
 April 12, 1999:  Applicants are notified
 September 15, 1999:  Scholars Tea with Moderator
 October 23, 1999:  First Moderated session
 December 15, 1999:  CIE proposal for 2000-2001 topic submitted to Moderator
 January 15, 2000:  Second Moderated session
 January 31, 2000:  CIE proposal for 2000-2001 topic finalized
 February 1, 2000:  Begin Scholars promotional campaign
 February 9, 2000: First information session
 February 16, 2000:  Second information session
 March 1, 2000:  Deadline for proposals
 March 5, 2000:  Third Moderated Session
 March 16, 2000:  Decisions mailed
 April 21, 2000:  First Annual Penn Scholars Panel Discussion

Back to The SCUE Report On Experimental Education

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 19, February 2, 1999